All Aboard for a Day Out With Thomas!

June 20, 2014

Day Out With Thomas at Roaring Camp Railroads.Is your child a Thomas the Tank Engine fanatic? If so, your chance to experience all things Thomas & Friends and even take a ride on a train drawn by Thomas the Tank Engine himself is coming this summer! Tickets are on sale now for Day Out With Thomas: The Thrill of the Ride Tour 2014, which takes place over two weekends on July 25–27 and August 1–3 at Roaring Camp Railroads in Felton, located in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

You can take a train ride, meet Sir Topham Hatt, enjoy live music, play in a bounce house, take in some storytelling, get a (temporary) Thomas & Friends tattoo, and even watch videos. There's something for everyone. Of course there are also plenty of ways available to separate you from your cash, with just about every conceivable Thomas & Friends product available for sale.

Weekend Family-friendly Fun for June 20, 21 & 22

June 20, 2014

Here are our picks for great events and activities for children and families in and around Marin County this weekend. Find more events for the whole week in Marin and beyond in our Family Events Calendar.

Friday, June 20

  • Children's Garden Series: The Unique Derique
    Yerba Buena Gardens, San Francisco
    Friday, 11–11:30 am & 12:15–12:45 pm

    This free event is part of the Children's Garden Series at Yerba Buena Gardens in San Francisco. Whether up on his unicycle or delivering a cool hambone performance, the Unique Derique is a hip clown of the highest order… and you just may be part of the show! For more info, visit their website.
  • Sonoma-Marin Fair
    Petaluma Fairgrounds
    Friday, Saturday & Sunday, noon–11 pm

    This year the Sonoma-Marin Fair celebrates its 75th anniversary with its theme "Diamonds Are Fairever." Don’t miss the famous World's Ugliest Dog Contest on Friday! Location: Petaluma Fairgrounds, 175 Fairgrounds Drive, Petaluma. Admission prices include all entertainment, concerts, and carnival rides (destruction derby admission extra). Admission at the gate: $15 adults; $10 children ages 4–12 and seniors 65+. Order online in advance: $12 adults; $8 for children and seniors. Gates close at 10 pm. For more info, call (707) 283-FAIR or visit
  • Friday Family Date Nights: Caribbean Dance Party with Asheba
    Bay Area Discovery Museum, Sausalito
    Friday, 5–7:30 pm

    It’s Family Date Night every Friday this summer. Bring your family to enjoy later hours, live entertainment, special outdoor activities, and more. Bring your dancing shoes for a Caribbean Dance Party with Asheba as we kick-off summer the right way. Admission applies. Location: 557 McReynolds Road Fort Baker in Sausalito. For more info, call (415) 339-3900 or visit their website.
  • Jazz & Blues by the Bay
    Gabrielson Park, Sausalito
    Friday, 6:30–8 pm

    Jazz & Blues by the Bay at Gabrielson Park in Sausalito is a free event. Lawn seating available (first-come first-served). This Friday: Ray Charles Project. Sponsored by Sausalito Sister City Committee. For more info, call (415) 289-4100 or visit their website.
  • Family Fun Night: Under the Sea
    City of Mill Valley Aquatics & Fitness Center
    Friday, 6:30–8:30 pm

    Start off your summer with a pool party. Family fun night will include swimming, games, music, raffle, face painting, movie, jumpee, nail salon, and more. $10 for the entire family. The Little Mermaid movie will be playing in the Cove Room starting at 6:30 pm. Location: 180 Camino Alto, Mill Valley. For more info, call (415) 383-1370 or visit their website.
  • Tam Valley's Creekside Fridays
    Tennessee Valley Cabin, Mill Valley
    Friday, 6:30–8 pm

    Bring the family, pets, chairs, and blankets to the weekly free musical event. This Friday, Jeffery Halford will be performing. Food available for purchase. For more info, call (415) 289-4152 or visit their website.

Saturday, June 21

  • Family Summer Bird Walk
    Olompali State Park, Novato
    Saturday, 8:30–10:30 am

    Celebrate summer with the birds of Olompali! Beginning and experienced birders are invited to join leaders Rich Cimino and Janet Bodle of Yellowbilled Tours to view Olompali’s diverse avian residents. Expect to see a wide variety of species who thrive in the park’s oak savanna and open grasslands: raptors, warblers, nuthatches, thrushes and—of course—many woodpeckers. Sharpen your bird-identification skills, gain a deeper appreciation for our local ecology and have a lot of fun along the way. Families are welcome! $8 per car for parking. For directions, call (415) 898-4362 ext. 201 or visit their website.
  • 10th Annual Flea Market Extraodinaire!
    Mill Valley Community Center
    Saturday, 9 am–3 pm

    Find new treasures and collectibles at bargain prices, plus the Mill Valley Seniors' Club will sell a variety of foods, drinks, snacks and delicious homemade take-home goodies! Location: 180 Camino Alto, Mill Valley. For more info, visit their website.
  • Marin Country Mart Farmers Market
    Marin Country Mart, Larkspur Landing
    Saturday, 9 am–2 pm

    Kid's Love to Cook! Hands On Cooking Demonstration takes place from 10:30- 11:30 am. Enjoy the best local and organic produce, flowers, pastured meats, seafood, organic cheeses, yogurt and milk, breads, baked goods, pasta, confections, olive oil, and brunch and lunch offerings! Kids can take a pony ride and visit the petting zoo (10 am–2 pm), try out some arts and crafts (9 am–2 pm) and listen to family music (9:30–10:30 am). For more info, visit their website.
  • Habitat Restoration: Salmon Habitat Enhancement
    Forest Knolls
    Saturday, 9 am–1 pm

    Join the AmeriCorps Watershed Stewards Project to improve salmon habitat and enjoy a great day outdoors with your family. Help plant native shrubs, remove invasive plants, and prevent sedimentation in the creek. A free picnic lunch will be provided afterwards in the park. This event is hosted by Marin Municipal Water District, SPAWN, and Marin Open Space. Meeting at the Forest Knolls post office parking lot. Volunteers will be shuttled to work site. Please RSVP for lunch. For more information, visit their website.
  • San Anselmo Art and Wine Festival
    Downtown San Anselmo
    Saturday & Sunday, 10 am–6 pm

    Bring the family to this year's San Anselmo Art and Wine Festival. There will be 200 artists, gourmet food and wine, live music and a Kid's Zone. Free. For more info, visit their website.
  • San Francisco Bay Area Birth & Baby Fair
    San Mateo Event Center
    Saturday, 10 am–4 pm

    Don’t miss this amazing shopping event for new and expecting parents in the Bay Area. The Birth & Baby Fair showcases local businesses and resources as well as independent designers with the aim to educate and expose new and expecting parents and young families to unique and beneficial products and services. General admission $8 online, $10 at the door. Children 18 and under are free. Location: 2495 South Delaware Street, San Mateo. For more info, visit their website.

Fun, Sun, and Sand at San Francisco's Crissy Field

June 19, 2014

Crissy FieldThe San Francisco Presidio's Crissy Field has undergone many changes in its lifetime, from tidal marsh to military airfield to one of the Bay Area's premier recreation areas. Crissy Field is a great place to spend the day with the family, and has a wonderful mix of outdoor attractons, amenities, and local businesses, as well as spectacular views of San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge.

Crissy Field is a fantastic destination for walking, bicycling, kite flying, or playing at the beach. It offers a waterfront promenade and trails that are popular with dog walkers, runners, and cyclists (and parents, judging from the number of strollers we usually see there), as well as a clean stretch of sand along San Francisco Bay.

The water here is perfect for wading and playing in the gently lapping waves. Lawn areas and picnic tables, some with charcoal grills, are available, too, so bring a picnic and your beach blanket and umbrella and spend the day. Torpedo Wharf, a pier on the north end of the field, is a popular spot for fishing and crabbing.

Summer Family Fun at San Rafael's McInnis Park

June 17, 2014

mini golf at McInnis Park in San RafaelIf you've never ventured out to McInnis Park, in the northern part of San Rafael, you owe it to yourself to check it out this summer. McInnis Park, formally known as John F. McInnis Park, is 450-acre regional park, and a one-stop destination for all kinds of active family fun, from golf and baseball to hiking and skateboarding.

If you haven't been you really should pay it a visit. And if you have, you should resolve to go there more often! Here are some of the things that keep us coming back multiple times every summer (and at other times of the year, too).

Golf at McInnis Park

McInnis Park is home to McInnis Park Golf Center, with a nine-hole golf course and driving range, as well as Marin County's only miniature golf course. While many visit the park to play nine holes or hit a bucket of balls at the course and driving range (with its attendant pro shop and clubhouse), we love the beautiful, 18-hole, artist-designed mini golf course, with its whimsical sculptures and beautiful flowers.

Mini Golf in Marin at McInnis Park

June 17, 2014

mini golf at McInnis Park in San RafaelI'd driven by McInnis Park off Smith Ranch Road in San Rafael many times before I realized that—hidden amongst the driving range, nine-hole golf course, clubhouse, and batting cages—there was a miniature golf course there too (it was the a little windmill and castle on the hill that tipped me off). Since then, it's been a favorite place for us to go with the kids for a fun day out.

McInnis Park's miniature golf course is a colorful, 18-hole, artist-designed course with fanciful features including an elephant with moving feet, a snail, a castle, a lighthouse, a waterfall, and a much more. The tiered, lushly landscaped course winds its way up a hill as you play and the views from the top are spectacular.

The course also offers two bonus holes at the end. Keep your ball after the 18th hole, then go down below to the bonus course that includes a dinosaur, which is always a favorite with my kids.

Summer Travel Tips: Traveling with a Baby or Toddler

June 16, 2014

During summer vacation, traveling with an infant or toddler can be a unique challenge, especially when it comes getting them to sleep. Marin parent coach, infant/toddler sleep researcher, and family therapist Angelique Millette has complied the following list of handy tips for traveling with children.

Angelique works throughout the Bay Area and across the country supporting families and helping them meet life's challenges. You can learn more about her and her events and classes at

General tips for traveling with a baby or toddler

  • If you will be using a travel crib, the week or two before your trip, practice setting up the travel crib and napping baby/toddler in the travel crib.
  • Good travel crib brands: Baby Björn, Lotus Travel Crib, or Graco Pack-n-Play. Be sure to check limits on age/height as well as airline restrictions for size/weight of travel crib.
  • Check out baby-rental-gear company Baby’s Away. They rent items such as playards, highchairs, cribs, pack-n-plays, and bouncy chairs and will deliver and set up in most major cities.

Petaluma's Sonoma-Marin Fair Starts This Week

June 16, 2014

Sonoma-Marin Fair 2014Summertime is fair time, and the first fair of the season is Petaluma's Sonoma-Marin Fair, which takes place at the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds from Wednesday June 18 through Sunday, June 22. The Sonoma-Marin Fair is not quite but almost a county fair, and offers a wide range of fun and exciting attractions, competitions, events, and activities for the entire family.

This year the Sonoma-Marin Fair celebrates its 75th anniversary with its theme "Diamonds Are Fairever." There'll be a special anniversary exhibit in the Exhibit Hall, and you'll also see livestock shows, agricultural exhibits, chef demonstrations, a destruction derby, and more. Of course there are also traditional carnival rides, including a kiddie carnival for younger children. Of course the fair's famous World's Ugliest Dog Contest, will take place, too!

And what would a fair be without live music? The Sonoma-Marin Fair has numerous musical acts on its schedule, including Eddie Money, country up-and-comer Brett Eldredge, Uncle Kracker, and Creedence Clearwater Revisited. Concerts are free with fair admission.

Tuscan Grilled Chicken Is Perfect for Father's Day

June 15, 2014

Tuscan Grilled ChickenMarin Mommies presents this week's guest recipe from Nicole Cibellis, Marin mom and author of the blog A Family that Eats Together, where she shares meal plans and recipes that will please foodies and children alike. This is perfect for a Father's Day cookout!

If you love the sweet taste of fennel you will love this recipe. Fennel scented three times over, this grilled chicken recipe is alluring and reminiscent of a typical Tuscan dinner. Not only is this a quick, easy and healthy recipe but also it is perfect for the grill on a warm summer night.

Servings: 6
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes


  • 3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 4 small fennel bulbs, trimmed of stalks, bulbs sliced in half, reserve 1 teaspoon of fronds
  • 1 red onion, peeled and sliced in half

Savor the Taste of Summer with Strawberry Lemonade

June 14, 2014

Strawberry lemonadeThe warm days of summer call for something cool and refreshing to drink, and my family thinks this homemade strawberry lemonade fits the bill perfectly. The combination of sweet berries and tart lemons makes for a truly special summertime treat.

It's easier to make than you think, and it's much better than the stuff you get from a bottle or can. Plus, you have the added assurance of knowing exactly what goes into it.

You don't have to use strawberries, either—other sweet summer berries like blueberries or blackberries are also equally delicious. Any way you make it, it's fantastic!

The secret to great homemade lemonade is making a simple syrup first. It incorporates into the lemonade evenly and thoroughly, and here we supercharge the lemonade's citrus flavor by adding some fresh grated lemon zest to the syrup.

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